LONDON (AP) — Anthony Joshua will fight 39-year-old Robert Helenius at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday night after the Finnish boxer was confirmed as Dillian Whyte’s replacement.
Joshua was set to face fellow British heavyweight Whyte, but the bout had to be canceled last weekend after Whyte returned “adverse analytical findings” on a doping test. Whyte said he was “shocked and devastated” to learn of the VADA findings.
It left Matchroom in a race against time to find a new opponent but, 72 hours after Whyte’s failed test was made public, Helenius has answered the call from the promotion company despite having fought in Finland last weekend.
“This wasn’t in the script. I respect Helenius and, may I say, I respect any male or female who steps into the ring,” former two-time world heavyweight champion Joshua said Tuesday. “I am laser-focused on the win … May the best man win.”
Stockholm-born Helenius (32-4, 21 KOs) is no stranger to the British boxing scene after he beat Derek Chisora in a contentious split decision to win the vacant European Championship title in 2011.
The heavyweight with an orthodox style lost to Whyte on points six years later in Cardiff but only after he took the bout at two weeks notice.
This will be the 37th fight of the veteran’s career, but he has only fought three times since the coronavirus pandemic started in 2020.
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